Globiana Members Speak: Finding Home

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In my adult life I have moved houses eleven times. It may not seem outrageous but counting the 12+2 years spent in our current home, we did move a lot from the ones that did not last more than two years. What is interesting is what made me move and how I found my new home each time. I believe there is a sweet balance between over-planning and following your gut when choosing a city, a neighborhood, a house. 

Here are my most memorable moving decisions to share. It started with being able to afford a really posh but small place on the 42nd floor overlooking Lake Ontario in downtown Toronto as newlyweds. There was not enough space for our clothes and our combined households, let alone an office. I learned to improvise: the small balcony became our summer dining room, the furniture had to be light and was constantly moved to accommodate office work, dinner parties and other projects. I never minded because the walls of window overlooking the lake and the city were my mansion.

It also taught me that I am not a city person. No matter how convenient the location, I prefer my privacy to not be shared with a 24-hour security guard.

Fast-forward to living with a toddler in crazy expensive California. Before relocating here to temporary housing, I had one day in-between work meetings to explore the Bay Area. We had learned that San Francisco was too cold for our taste, so we had to start our search from scratch.

I put our son in the car and drove south, planning to explore the beach and not worry about housing for now. Heading down Hwy 17 I saw a sign for Los Gatos which I thought was too cute a name, and on pure impulse, drove into town. It was so breathtakingly beautiful as I pushed the stroller down North Santa Cruz Avenue that I never made it to the beach.

Los Gatos, California has been our home for the past 18 years, raising our children and making wonderful friends. Interrupted by four years in India (finding a home in Bangalore is an entire story in itself).

What I remember is that we never questioned settling here. Things fell into place despite many obstacles. We found a great landlady who rented to us because she wanted a little boy to live in her house. We won a bidding war to buy our home because the seller liked us. 

All I can say is follow your instinct. Yes, decide what you cannot do without, such as schools and commuting times, but remember that you have alternatives. Between us, my husband and I have had long commutes lightened by flexible work arrangements, working from home and easy commutes. If you plan to stay, plant roots. If you know it’s only for a few years, ask yourself what kind of lifestyle you would like to experience. My own lesson? Home is where your heart is. 

Family Health Care and Employers – Expat View

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Globiana Founder and CEO Elena Mosko sits down with Kelley Filice Jensen of Filice Insurance to understand how employers can help employees relocating to the United States master the complicated system of health care and health insurance that can be so different from their home country. Kelley and Elena share more than just professional collaboration. They love books, and can be found pouring over their latest book club selection, while pouring a traditional glass of Californian wine, on Thursdays each month.

Our subscribers tell us that of all the adjustments that they make to the United States, health care is one of the hardest and most confusing changes for their families, why?

Because of the way health care is “purchased” in this country. We have a much different system of paying for doctors and hospitals in the U.S. than much of the world.

What do you mean?

Well, we pay for our health care with health insurance plans, and, for the majority of Americans, these insurance plans are paid for by their employers. This is true even after the Affordable Care Act (ACA), has taken effect. This means that employers often make the first decision regarding health care for families, and that is, how to pay for it.

How do employers educate employees about how their health insurance works?

Ideally, the employee benefits consultant that sells the insurance works with employers to educate employees on health care and health insurance. And we do this in many different ways: Health fairs, educational nights, videos, company benefits websites, phone apps, and of course, pamphlets and collateral. Employers are always looking for new ways to engage employees. We even have one broker that starts all his open enrollments with stand-up comedy! Anything we can think of to help employees learn the esoteric set of terms and conditions of health insurance.

What is the most frustrating thing for employers?

It can be very frustrating to put so much energy into campaigns about health insurance, only to have employees and their families not engage or learn what their health insurance is about and how it impacts the health care choices they make. People tend to have money taken out of their paychecks for a company sponsored health plan, but not learn anything about the plan until there is some sort of emergency, then panic sets in and everyone is frantically trying to learn their health insurance.

What advice does Filice have for employers with employees new to the U.S.?

Many times employee benefits consultants will provide materials that have been translated into native languages as a way to educate employees, but be wary. Ask if the materials have been translated or reviewed by someone in the health insurance business. Health insurance terms often do not translate easily into native languages and may not give employees or their families the most necessary, complete and accurate information. Also, request that someone is available to meet with employees or their spouse in person.

What advice do you have for families new to the U.S.?

Be proactive! Do not wait until someone needs to go to the doctor to understand your health benefits. Ask HR to help you understand your benefits. Spouses can get involved too. Make an appointment with the benefits consultants your Company uses to get questions answered. And, if the education you are receiving about health insurance is not sufficient, make sure to let HR know.

What requests from employees new to the U.S. might an HR team not have anticipated?

Extended family. Many times, mothers and fathers or other family caregivers will move with the family or stay in the U.S. for extended periods of time. What is the best way for them to acquire health insurance if they cannot be considered dependents eligible to participate in the company sponsored health plan?

How does Filice help HR teams accommodate these extended families?

We have an individual insurance team that is certified by Covered CA to sell such health plans.

What about Covered CA, what do people new to the U.S. need to know about Covered CA?

Covered CA is a good option for anyone in the family that cannot be on the employer sponsored plan. People new to the U.S. will need to have their immigration status handy and they must be mindful of open enrollment dates and qualifying events for purchasing individual plans.

 

The Choice of Being Positive

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Have you ever noticed how contageous the negativity can be? Particularly when you feel lonely and any kind of a conversation is better than none? Before long we find ourselves pulled into emotions of the negative neighbor or a person next to us in the supermarket, trying on their situations and judgements, venturing deeper into what’s not even our true feeling…  Just remember, it is always your choice!  Here is a great recent piece from personal development coach Manuela Pauer on negativity:

For some reason, I have been noticing a lot of negativity around me lately. There are updates on Facebook with various complaints, meetings in which people focus on all the things that are going wrong, and even when walking Rafa (our doggie) the other day, a regular park patron greeted me with “You are late!” rather than a “Good morning!”

Maybe you have noticed this phenomenon as well or have even felt more negative about things yourself. Why is it so much easier to be negative and how can we change it?

Over our lifetime we all accumulate various memories – some good, some bad. However, even when we have more positive experiences than negative ones, we remember more of the negative experiences. This is because our brain has a preference for recalling and reacting to unpleasant memories. This is called the “negativity bias” and it has an important evolutionary reason: To help us survive by avoiding danger and keeping us out of harm’s way.

The problem is that luckily most of us don’t have to deal with daily life or death situations, so this bias for negativity is causing us needless suffering. While we often cannot prevent negative experiences from happening altogether, we CAN create much more balance by fostering positive experiences and really internalizing them.

In the book “Buddha’s Brain”, Rick Hanson suggests a 3 –step process for focusing on the Positive:

1. Actively look for the good and positive every day

Every day, there are positive things all around us – someone is nice to us, we see a beautiful flower, the smell of an orange, interesting clouds in the sky, we finish a project – but we just let it roll by. Instead of just letting those moment go by, bring mindful awareness to them. Open up to them and let them affect you.

2. Savor the experience

Really stay with the experience for 5, 10, even 20 seconds – don’t let your attention wander to something else. Focus on your emotions and body sensations and let the experience be as intense as possible. Pay attention to what is rewarding about it (for example, how good it feels to get a great big hug from someone you love.) All of this will help strengthen the implicit memory so you can carry it inside you and remember more easily.

3. Fully absorb the experience

Imagine or feel that the experience is entering deeply into your mind and body, like the sun’s warmth that is soaking through. Keep relaxing your body and take in all the emotions, sensations, and thoughts of the experience.

The good news is that there is plenty of opportunity to practice – every day we experience 20,000 moments! What positive moments are you noticing and savoring today?

About Manuela Pauer

manuela pauerManuela is a Certified Professional Coach and workshop leader. Her passion is to empower women to find more meaning, balance, and success, and to finally be happy with themselves and their lives.

Manuela loves helping professional women bring more balance, happiness and success into their lives! Visit Manuela’s Website for Professional Life Coaching and Powerful Workshops.